Hepatitis A, also called infectious hepatitis or type A viral hepatitis, is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Following infection, the liver cells are destroyed by the pathogen and become incapable of fully performing their functions. The severity of the disease may vary from a mild condition that is treated within a few weeks to a serious illness that persists for months.
Generally, hepatitis A is a disease with a long evolution, averaging 1-2 months. The best way to prevent liver disease is vaccination.
The incubation period of the virus usually varies between two to six weeks, during which the disease remains asymptomatic. So there is an increased risk that an infected person could transmit the disease to others without knowing it. The first signs of hepatitis A are similar to those of a common flu, including fever, asthenia, and headaches.
Other common symptoms include:
- Strong fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain, abdominal discomfort, especially in the liver region
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
About a week after the end of the incubation period, the skin and the white area of the eyes start to become yellowish, a symptom called jaundice in medical terms. Symptoms and signs of hepatitis A may persist for less than two months, but there are cases where they continue to manifest up to 6 months. In addition, not everyone who contacts the A virus develops disease-specific symptoms.
In very rare cases, hepatitis A can lead to liver failure. Patients exposed to this risk are those who suffer from other chronic liver diseases or those of advanced age. Acute liver failure requires hospitalization and permanent medical monitoring during treatment. In some situations, people who develop this complication may need liver transplants.
There is no hepatitis A curing drug. As a viral infection, the A virus is removed from the body through its own defense mechanisms. Most of the time, the liver heals completely after a month or two of rest and balanced eating. During the recovery period, it is recommended to follow the next steps:
- Try to avoid prolonged effort and stress, as the body needs plenty of rest to fight the infection.
- Have a diet rich in nutrients and low in harmful ingredients for the body, recommended by a your doctor and stick to it.
- Take proper care of your liver by avoiding alcohol consumption or taking medication that may harm it
In chronic forms, the doctor may prescribe antiviral medicines or find that the patient needs a liver transplant to recover. Hepatitis A healing is usually “announced” by the sudden elimination of a large amount of urine.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. Medical authorities recommend vaccination against hepatitis A for the following categories:
- Children over 1 year old
- People exposed to infections (medical staff, laboratory workers, etc.)
- Those who have more than one sexual partners.
- People traveling in areas with a high risk of infection (Africa, Asia or South America).
- People who are on blood coagulation medications
- Patients with chronic liver disease.
Other measures to prevent hepatitis A virus infection are
- Washing your hands with plenty of water and soap a few times a day, especially after using the toilet.
- Only consuming water from safe sources
- Properly sanitizing your hands before preparing food.
- Using tableware for food consumption (eating with your hands can be an easy way to get hepatitis A virus infection).